Guide to a Bengal cat
Similar to a tabby cat but with large ears, striking bright blue eyes and beautiful leopard-like markings, Bengal cats are pretty easy to spot. They’re also becoming increasingly popular as household pets. In fact, according to Pets4Homes, Bengal cats take the prime position as the most popular of all the cat breeds in the UK.
There's a reason these majestic moggies are so sought after. Entertaining, active and extremely playful, this beautiful feline breed can certainly be a ‘pawful’, but it's one that is ultimately worth it. If you're looking to welcome one of these spotted felines into your home, it's important to know just how to care for them.
From settling them in, to grooming tips, to what type of cat insurance to get, here’s an in-depth guide to the Bengal. We hope it will help you welcome one of these beautiful bundles of fluff into your home!
What is the origin of a Bengal cat?
Bengals are an exotic breed and come with many striking features. There’s a reason for this. These fetching felines originated from crossbreeding domestic cats with the petite, jungle feline – the wild Asian leopard cat. The goal? To create a cat with the traits of a domesticated puss but with the marvellous markings of the Asian leopard cat. Simple.
As you may expect from their hereditary good looks, Bengal cats are affectionately known as the ‘miniature leopard'. Not all Bengals are created equal. Common mixes such as Bengal-tabby cat, Bengal-Siamese and Bengal-British Shorthair domestic blends can slightly alter your kitty's temperament.
What is the temperament of a Bengal cat?
Bengal cats are highly intelligent felines, which means they’re more than just a pretty face. And whilst they look exceedingly like their wild animal kingdom counterparts, they don’t come with the aggressive temperament you might expect of large leopard. Phew!
In fact, when lengthy sofa snuggles are the order of the day, Bengal cats offer themselves up as super affectionate felines with a gentle disposition. Ultra-vocal for attention and soppy and sweet with their interactions, you may even need to secure a special spot on your favourite chill-out area just so your nuzzling Bengal feels adored.
Though when the time comes to up sticks and get a little active, they will undoubtedly run circles around you, and your living quarters. Yes, as much as Bengal's have a sweet nature, they're also an athletic breed of cat with a demonstrable feisty side and lots of personality to interact with. This means they need a lot of mental stimulation and physical activity to feel safe, secure and ultimately, satisfied. Bengal cats will essentially look at all objects around them and think ‘can I play with this?’.
Here’s a breakdown of the Bengal pussycat’s favourite and not-so-favourite things when they’re at home:
- Mental stimulation
- Sharing your sleeping space
- Being the first to get to their food
- Water and general wet areas; think sinks, showers and baths
- Excessive grooming
- Citrus fruits
- Being bored
- Socialising with other cats
- Big changes to their environment
Are Bengal cats more aggressive?
Some potential owners worry about aggressive tendencies and problems with the Bengal's behaviour. And in the early years of the Bengal's breed development, there were instances of certain behavioural issues. Today, breeders have worked diligently on the character of the breed. It is, however, often assumed that due to the fierce nature of wild animals, any pet with this type of hereditary bloodline is also likely to be fierce in their temperament.
Barrie Alger-Street, chairman of the Bengal Cat Club, states that whilst their wild looks indicate certain exotic tendencies, Bengals aren't an aggressive breed. Despite the intensity of their character, "Bengals don't prey on wildlife," says Barrie.
And whilst this particular breed can be fiercely territorial and may have issues interacting with a current household cat or dog, Bengals are not wild animals. They’ve been domesticated over many generations and therefore should not pose any more of a threat to humans – owners or otherwise – than an everyday domestic moggy.
Introductions to current household pets can be difficult, but this would be the case for any cat. Bengals also dislike changes to their environment. But as long as you have a safe, enclosed space they can retreat to when they feel stressed out, they will feel better able to cope with their environment.
Bengals are also extremely loyal, both kid and dog-friendly and easily trainable. Though, you should always ensure to meet any Bengal kitten alongside its parents to get a glimpse of its character before taking it home to settle in, just like you would with any other cat breed.
Are Bengal cats good house pets?
Due to their dog-like nature, Bengal cats are a welcome addition to many households. They’re also known for being good with children and with their blend of charming attributes, they make for the perfect family pussycat. However, Bengal's are not generally recommended for first-time cat owners, due to their energetic and sometimes demanding nature.
If you open up your doors to a Bengal, you can expect to engage in a wonderfully vocal, two-way conversation full of trills, chirps and eye-contact that will make it feel as though they are trying to connect with you. If you’re after a cat who will happily act aloof when you call them by name or sit happily snoozing in the corner for much of their day, then the Bengal cat is not for you.
Due to the active and inquisitive nature of a Bengal breed, the subject of whether or not to keep them solely as an indoor pet comes with its controversies. Whilst their very nature can dictate their need to get outside and explore the wilderness – even if solely of concrete proportions – there are questions as to whether the outdoor world is for them. Since they are a rare, costly and highly sought after breed of feline, letting them roam freely could also mean more potential for your beloved Bengal to be stolen or injured.
And, it’s not difficult to see why Bengal owners might be concerned to let their miniature leopards roam the streets. According to the police, recorded cat thefts more than doubled in the four years up to 2018 with Bengal cats at the greatest risk of being stolen. According to the statistics, 19% of all recorded feline thefts were for the striking Bengal breed. Whether you choose to keep your kitty away from prying eyes or set them loose on the streets is ultimately down to you as a cat owner. Just be aware that they can be quite the handful, so engaging them in interactive activities is a top priority, no matter if their paws are firmly indoors or out.
How much does a Bengal cat cost?
Due to its popularity in the household kitty ranks, it probably comes as no great surprise to learn that Bengal cats can fetch a pretty penny. Bengalcat.co.uk advises that the average cost of such a breed comes in between £450 to £600. However, it's ultimately down to the breeder how much they decide to ask. If a Bengal kitten with pristine bloodlines and the potential for excellent breeding is on the market, they could start at more like £900.
When weighing up the costs of your beloved new Bengal, no matter what price you settle on, make sure that the cost includes its very first vaccinations, de-worming treatment and copies of all the necessary clearance papers and documentation, such as GCCF. If any of these are in question at the time of purchase, it’s probably best to walk away and find a more responsible breeder.
And like with any important purchase (especially those of the furry, four-legged kind) it’s crucial to make sure you have the right kind of cover. Yes, we’re talking cat insurance. From overseas travel to dentistry, special diet and all things in-between, you’ll want to make sure your beautiful Bengal is covered for whatever he or she needs. So make sure to compare cat insurance plans and find the right one for you and your four-pawed friend.
How can you ensure the best kind of care for your Bengal kitty?
One of the best ways you can ensure your Bengal is well-cared for is to first focus on their mealtimes. Like other felines, Bengals are carnivores, which means their diet must include meat but it's best to avoid grain-heavy foods. These types of foods are usually full of bulking agents and not ideal for your kitty's digestive system.
Instead, offer up wet or dry food with a high meat content and take extra care not to overfeed them. Too much of their favourite thing can lead to digestive problems such as diarrhoea, gas and bloating. As a tasty treat dish up a serving of fresh white fish once a week to keep them healthy. This is great for their nutrition due to its high iodine content.
You can also look into a raw meat diet, as these cats inherited feral characteristics from their feline ancestors. But always do your research and speak to your vet about the pros and cons of doing so for your particular pussycat.
Fearless, fun and feisty, Bengals can be a handful for their pet owners as they love to run, play, jump, climb and scale all sorts of walls. As descendants of wild ancestors and athletes of the cat arena, they are mischievous and as such, require an active playtime schedule.
Whilst they don’t necessarily require the same exercise regime as dogs, Bengal’s are hyperactive and full of energy, so it’s important for them to have areas they can blow off some steam. If they transition into outdoor pussycats, they should have enough around them to keep them entertained.
If keeping your kitty indoors, invest in a cat tree or climbing frame and ensure you have areas where your Bengal can reach great heights or do a little climbing. Also, make sure to pick up a bunch of interactive toys - ones where they can burn off their energy and put their intelligence skills to good use.
These lovable mini leopards are blessed with a naturally beautiful coat but to keep it clean and pristine, there are a few grooming habits you can indulge in as their dedicated owner.
Luckily the Bengal has a slightly lower maintenance brushing schedule than other felines. Considered as a hypoallergenic cat and one that sheds slightly less than other breeds, they don't require a huge amount of brushing. Make sure to pick up a soft, slicker brush, or a rubber grooming glove, and indulge in a short spot of weekly brushing to maintain that sleek and shiny coat. They'll lap up the attention and chance for a bonding session.
Ensure regular vet visits
In the same way as many other breeds of cat, Bengal’s come with their own unique health issues with the breed being at greater risk for Feline Infectious Peritonitis or FIP, a type of viral disease which can spread in larger cat households or more than five, and those who use share litter trays. This also means that any area where Bengal breeding takes place can be at risk for clinical FIP.
They can also suffer from other kitty-related health problems such as polycystic kidney disease, tritrichomonas foetus, HCM - a common heart disease and PkDef - chronic anaemia. They are also prone to autosomal recessive disorder, which has been well documented in the breed and is a condition that causes blindness in the first year of age. Rest assured that any good breeder will screen against such health issues and can reduce the likeliness that your little Bengal will contract any of these.
As well as speaking to the breeder about any history of FIP within their breeding batch, it’s also crucial to shop around and compare cat insurance plans for your Bengal to put your mind at ease when it comes to unexpected and costly vet bills.
We understand just how much a part of the family your beloved Bengal is, so get in touch with us today to compare cat insurance plans and put your kitty's needs at the top of your list. Don’t delay, get a quote with us today.